Blackstone explores sale of Anthos Therapeutics -sources

By David Carnevali

NEW YORK (Reuters) -Private equity firm Blackstone is exploring the sale of Anthos Therapeutics, a developer of a new generation of blood thinners it launched four years ago with backing from Novartis, according to people familiar with the matter.

Anthos, which does not yet have any approved products or generate revenue, could be worth several billion dollars in a potential sale, significantly more than the $250 million Blackstone invested when it founded Anthos in 2019, the sources said.

The company’s anticoagulants have progressed to late-stage clinical trials – typically the final testing phase before seeking approval – which is why its value is seen as significantly more than four years ago, the sources added.

Cambridge, Massachusetts-based Anthos’ most advanced product, a monoclonal antibody called abelacimab, is intended for patients with atrial fibrillation who do not respond well to other anticoagulants because of heavy bleeding.

Over 37 million people worldwide are diagnosed with atrial fibrillation, Anthos said last month, citing research studies. The heart rhythm disorder significantly increases the risk of stroke.

Blackstone is working with investment bankers to explore a sale of Anthos, the sources said, cautioning that no deal is certain and requesting anonymity because the matter is confidential.

A Blackstone spokesperson declined to comment.

Blackstone’s global head of private equity, Joseph Baratta, confirmed in an interview on CNBC later on Monday that the New York-based buyout firm was looking at cashing out on Anthos when asked about Reuters’ story.

“That may be something we look to bring in a partner to sell, yes,” Baratta said.

Anthos licensed from Novartis an antibody used in the development of its blood thinners and granted the Swiss drugmaker a minority stake.

Leading bloodthinners used to treat atrial fibrillation patients include Eliquis from Bristol Myers Squibb and Pfizer and Bayer’s Xarelto.

Bayer announced last month it would stop development of a next-generation blood thinner because of clinical setbacks. The German drugmaker was counting on the product to generate an estimated $5.5 billion in peak sales and replace Xarelto when its patent expires in 2026. Eliquis’ patent protection is also ending in the coming years.

Blackstone, which has over $1 trillion in assets under management, launched a dedicated life sciences investment arm after it acquired Clarus, an investment firm specializing in clinical trial deals, in 2018. Its bets since then have included investing more than $1 billion to back Alnylam Pharmaceuticals, which is developing drugs to tackle cholesterol and other diseases.

(Reporting by David Carnevali in New York; Editing by Leslie Adler and Bill Berkrot)


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